It’s spring—time to ditch the cleaning and take a trip instead. Even better, shoulder seasons like spring usually offer an affordable way to combine low-season hotel rates and fewer crowds with high-season weather, a canny workaround for any value-seeking travelers.
We’ve pulled together the 10 best places to visit in March, including where to view cherry blossoms, browse multimillion-dollar art, or participate in a Hindu festival that’s a glorious excuse to indulge your inner five-year-old.
Remember, though, that COVID-19-related regulations remain in place in many states and countries, and they are subject to change—always check updated mandates and requirements before booking any trip.
March is great for: celebrating your inner child
March 18 is the Hindu festival of Holi, when adherents celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Holi is marked by a tradition where people throw brightly colored powder or water over each other, like a rainbow shower—no wonder it’s nicknamed the Festival of Colors.
If you want to experience this firsthand, an ideal place is Jaipur, the ultimate brightly colored backdrop: The Pink City was painted so in the 1850s, using the color of hospitality to welcome a visit from a son of Queen Victoria, then Empress of India. Take an electric rickshaw tour led by one of the women from the nonprofit Pink City Rickshaw Company to see the major sights like Hawa Mahal Palace or the Amrapali Museum, which focuses on Indian craftsmanship, especially jewelry—Jaipur has been a gem-cutting hub for centuries.
Where to stay: Rambagh Palace
Book now: From $590/night; expedia.com
Stay in a hotel fit for this gem-obsessed city: the domed, loggia-fringed hotel nicknamed the Jewel of Jaipur, which sits among 60 acres of gardens. It’s a former royal palace converted into a hotel by India’s Taj group.
How to get there
There are no nonstop services right now from the USA; the best option is to connect via Dubai on Emirates (which serves a dozen North American airports) and then hop a local carrier like IndiGo.
2. Boise, Idaho
March is great for: an indie alt to SXSW
The name Boise derives from the woodlands spotted here by a U.S. army troop as they traipsed westward just before the Civil War—the copse indicated water, and their French guide called it boisé, or “wooded.” The name stuck, though if you want to sound like a local today, remember to call it BOY-see, not BOY-zee.
It’s fitting to visit, then, for TreeFort, the 10th edition of its homegrown alternative to South by Southwest, an expression of the laid-back, smart vibe that defines the college town today. This year’s festival runs from March 23 to 27, with a lineup that features more than 400 performers, including rock icon Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth; there are also tents (known as forts) for comedy, beer, skating, and even drag.
Boise’s cultural links with the Basque country add an unexpected accent to culture and food here—it is one of the largest expat clusters for Basques in the world. In the late 19th century, those settlers were drawn here to herd sheep when their non-Indo European language made it harder for them to work in factories and other social settings in Europe. You’ll see Basque touches on restaurant menus around town—such as chorizo offered as a side in almost any diner.
Where to stay: The Inn at 500 Capitol
Book now: From $225 per night, expedia.com
The four-year-old boutique hotel is a short walk from the Basque nabe downtown, as well as the major sights, like Idaho’s Capitol building and Julia Davis Park; the fireplaces in each room are a homey touch. The onsite Italian restaurant is worth a pit stop, too, with a menu overseen by James Beard nominee Richard Langston.
How to get there
There are nonstop flights to 29 destinations stateside, served by seven carriers, including Allegiant, Southwest, and Delta.
March is great for: old school harvest festivals
More than 1,500 wineries are spread over the three growing areas of the Mendoza region: Maipu Valley, Lujan de Cuyo, and Uco Valley, together accounting for more than two thirds of the country’s output. You’ll be able to sample and experience them in a single place during La Fiesta Nacional de Vendimia, a festival dating back to the 17th century, that marks the beginning of the harvest season.
In early March, alongside parties, dance displays, and special dinners in local restaurants, the city hosts La Bendición de los Frutos, where a priest publicly blesses the harvest, as well as Via de la Reinas, a parade where a beauty queen from each of the 17 districts in the region rides around town on a specially designed float. There’s so much to cram in, consider booking with a tour operator who can streamline logistics to maximize your time.
Where to stay: Vines Resort & Spa
Book now: From $800 per night; expedia.com
The big draw here isn’t the 22-room hotel, although its setting overlooking the mountains in 1,500 acres of private vineyard is spectacular. Rather, it’s the chance to savor food cooked by poetry-loving chef and open flame champion Francis Mallmann; he runs the restaurant Siete Fuegos onsite here.
How to get there
The easiest Mendoza route is via Santiago, Chile, which is a 30-minute flight away; connections between those two cities resumed in October, on Latam. There are nonstop flights on Latam from Miami, Houston, and New York JFK to Santiago.
March is great for: browsing art like a billionaire
Forget Art Basel. The grande dame of art shindigs is TEFAF, which holds its 35th edition this March in Maastricht. It’s far less showbizzy than its Miami counterpart, and the focus is broader, going beyond contemporary to art from any time in the past 7,000 years.
The 10-day fair (call it Maastricht, which is how it’s known among the arterati) is noteworthy for its stringent admission criteria, with a 175-strong judging panel overseeing items for sale in an attempt to keep low-quality riffraff and full-on fakes off the show floor.
The buyers here are an assortment of the world’s richest, which also means that the 275 dealers at the show bring out their best pieces. It has a particular reputation for superb, often hitherto unseen Old Masters. Even if you can’t stretch to splurging a few million on a portrait, browsing those booths is like a Greatest Hits of the world’s finest museums.
Where to stay: Hotel Monastère Maastricht
Book now: From $72 per night; expedia.com
The four-star, 52-room hotel, housed in a converted monastery that dates back to the 14th century, is an affordable option. Rooms are small (little wonder given its original purpose), but well designed and all of the major sights are easily accessible on foot.
How to get there
KLM flies directly to Amsterdam from New York and has just resumed service from Miami and Las Vegas. Hop on one of Holland’s easy-to-use trains to connect to Maastricht in about two hours.
March is great for: adventuring over hard-to-conquer terrain
The Tordrillo Mountain range, around 75 miles west northwest of Anchorage, features 1.2 million acres of rugged country terrain crisscrossed with ski runs that top out at 7,500 feet. It’s a jaw-dropping spectacle, and a reminder of how much of the rugged landscape of the Last Frontier remains untouched. Come here for a bracing outdoorsy vacation: cold plunge into a frozen lake for natural cryotherapy, go ice fishing, or try cross-country snowshoeing.
Even better, if the weather conditions hold, you can experience the aurora borealis (aka the northern lights) until the middle of April; the blue, green, and purple mirage can extend as far as 400 miles above the Earth’s surface. It’s caused by the collision between gas particles in the planet’s own atmosphere and particles expelled by the sun.
Where to stay: Tordrillo Mountain Lodge
Book now: From $15,000 per week; tordrillomountainlodge.com
One of the owners here (who’s also one of the guides) is former Olympic gold medalist Tommy Moe. He’s pimped out the lodge like a Bond villain’s lair, complete with 500-bottle wine cellar and tasting-menu meals that are the ideal après-outdoors indulgence.
How to get there
Alaska isn’t just a state, it’s also an airline—and the namesake carrier has service to almost everywhere across the country. From Anchorage, you can take a 40-minute helicopter to the range.
6. Canouan, Grenadines
March is great for: hobnobbing with the the world’s highest fliers (private jet only, please)
The five-square-mile, croissant-shaped island of Canouan is the Caribbean’s ultimate luxury getaway, and makes nearby Mustique look like it’s intended for Joe Public. The major lure here is privacy, as tourism focuses on high-end, low-density visitors: There’s little to do other than amble around from beach to beach as the sun shifts. Sundowners at Shenanigans, the outdoor restaurant at the newly built marina Sandy Lane Yacht Club, are essential; take a dip off the pier at Soho Beach House on Grand Bay.
On another day, charter a boat and head to the Tobago Cays, a cluster of islets famed for snorkeling and a plentiful population of turtles. Lunch alfresco at Sparrow’s on the beach there while also seeking out spots where the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie was shot. Then come back to hike up Mount Royal, Canouan’s highest peak. If the weather is clear, you can, literally, look down on Mustique.
Where to stay: The Mandarin Oriental Canouan
Book now: From $1,600/night, expedia.com
This sprawling resort sits on the island’s best beach, Godahl. Options for rooms include regency-inflected suites in the main building, similarly decorated Lagoon Villas with their own private pools, and the sleek wooden Patio Villas, an Asian-inspired addition that was a passion project of new owner, Italian entrepreneur Andrea Pignataro.
How to get there
CIW, the island’s commercial airport, doesn’t even come up in Google Flights: You’ll need to manually book a puddle jumper from Barbados on Grenadine Alliance. Barbados is served directly from numerous U.S. airports.
March is great for: blossom-peeping
It isn’t a weather forecast that everyone waits for each year from the Japanese Meteorological Forecast—it’s the prediction for when sakagura season will take place in each Japanese city. Per its floral crystal ball, peak bloom-peeping for 2022 will be the last two weeks of March in Osaka. Head to the Osaka Castle grounds for a superb display of more than 4,000 trees, or to the Expo 70 Commemorative Park to see 5,000 just outside the city.
Osaka is a startling contrast to Tokyo: much more relaxed, with an almost feverish obsession with baseball (a shame the Hanshin Tigers aren’t a top-tier team) and a disarming friendliness. The food is outstanding, too—try the complex inside the Hankyu Umeda Station, a labyrinth of shops and restaurants, including Takoume Bunten, one of the oldest in the country serving oden-style food, or Japanese hot pot.
Where to stay: W Hotel Osaka
Book now: From $398/night; expedia.com
The year-old, 337-room hotel is housed in a building on Midosuji Boulevard designed by famed architect Tadao Ando, who was born in Osaka. It’s sleek and sexy, as you’d expect from this party-focused brand, but there’s a charming unexpected twist: Throw open the closet doors, and you’ll find a hidden artwork by eBoy, known for gamer-style pixel art, which depicts the cityscape in riotous color.
How to get there
The only nonstop service right now is out of Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines. Otherwise, most major airlines offer connections via Tokyo.
March is great for: partying on one of the Caribbean’s loveliest beaches
Much like Canouan, the crowds are hard to find on Anguilla, with just 15,000 or so citizens living on the 40-square-mile island. So it’s ideal for privacy and social distancing: There are several superb, huge beaches like Rendezvous Bay and Meads Bay, as well as seven different marine parks that are primed for divers. (The El Buen Consejo shipwreck site dates back to 1772.)
If you do want to party, though, this month’s Moonsplash Music Festival is a three-day bash March 18–20 on Rendezvous Bay. It’s a raucous beach throwdown with a focus on reggae, though John Mayer and Nas have both previously performed. Founded in the 1990s by local musician Bankie Banx, it’s the oldest independent music festival in the Caribbean and emphasizes impromptu jams and audience participation. (Ask your hotel to arrange tickets or keep tabs on the festival’s Facebook page.)
Where to stay: The Aurora Resort & Golf Club
Book now: From $999/night; auroraanguilla.com
The Cuisinart hotel always struggled because of its oddball name—a shame as it sits on one of Anguilla’s best sites, Rendezvous Bay. New owners have ditched that moniker and plowed a huge investment into transforming the site. The 18-hole golf course has been reimagined by Greg Norman, who’s also added a nine-hole short course; while Abram Bisell, best known for his stint cooking in the kitchen at New York’s awards-laden Eleven Madison Park, is overseeing the F&B, including an onsite hydroponic farm.
How to get there
The smartest way to fly to Anguilla is via St. Maarten, which has widespread nonstop flights stateside. After you arrive, either hop a quick ferry ride (20 minutes, and it runs on a regular schedule) or a puddle jumper over to Anguilla next door. If you’re in Miami, though, try the brand new flight from MIA, which started on American Airlines in January.
March is great for: putting the cause in three-course meals
From March 25 through April 3, Indie Chefs Community (ICC) is debuting what it calls an “anti–food festival,” Commune, after postponing due to the pandemic last year. The goal, per the organizers, is to be more equitable and ensure that events like this give back to the community.
Houston Heights–based ICC founder Grover Smith will bring more than 200 chefs with global reach to the city for 10 days of events in a specially designed experiential dining compound. Expect collaborative tasting dinners, where 12 chefs come together to work on a meal, or late night pop-ups spotlighting lesser-known cooking traditions, like Palestinian. The full lineup will be released closer to the time, so check here for details as they’re made available.
Where to stay: Hotel ZaZa Museum District
Book now: From $240/night; expedia.com
There are two Houston locations for this Texas-based boutique hotel chainlet. The Museum District outpost is by far the better one, right around the corner from the Museum of Fine Art. It has a campy, maximalist vibe; book the Houston We Have a Problem suite, complete with life-sized astronaut statue, for an in-room Insta-moment.
How to get there
As a United Airlines hub, Houston has an extensive network of flights across the country.
March is great for: boosting a battered economy and skipping the lines
Cambodia has been shuttered to visitors for much of the pandemic, but recently announced it is reopening to international leisure travel: Fully vaccinated visitors can enter quarantine-free. As a tourism-dependent economy (almost one third of its GDP in 2019 derived from travel), it’s been badly hit by the global shutdown, and income from visitors is needed more than ever.
There are upsides, too: sites like Angkor Wat and the nearby tourist base of Siem Reap, both of which once lumbered under the burden of overcrowding, will now have returned to more manageable, and enjoyable, visitor levels. To make the most of a visit, a tour operator is definitely the smartest option, especially if pandemic regulations pivot; try InsideAsia, which runs an 11-night route including those sites as well as Phnom Penh and Tonlé Sap Lake.
Where to stay: Veranda Natural Resort
Book now: From $89/night; expedia.com
The Khmer-style wooden bungalows in Kep are all natural and are scattered down the hillside—hence the name. The best views on property are from its two pools, which sit at the peak overlooking the Gulf of Thailand.
How to get there
Singapore Airlines offers multiple flights per day from JFK to Phnom Penh connecting in Frankfurt, Germany.
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